The baseball season wasn't even a week old when Jack Morris of the Detroit Tigers hurled a no-hitter against the Chicago White Sox. No pitcher ever produced a hitless game on an earlier date, although Bob Feller tossed one in Cleveland's 1940 opener on April 16.
Morris pitched his way out of a jam in the fourth inning, when he walked three straight batters, but completed the 4-0 shutout in classic fashion by striking out slugger Ron Kittle. Though the highest scoring team in baseball last season, the White Sox were also no-hit by Oakland's Mike Warren on Sept. 29 . Milt Wilcox, Morris's teammate, came within an out of pitching a perfect game against Chicago last April.
If Wilcox hadn't given up a pinch single in the ninth, he, and not Morris, would have ended the franchise's 26-year wait between no-hitters, longest in the majors.
Morris, however, was the logical candidate to hurl this gem. He has been a quiet pillar of the pitching staff since joining the team fulltime in 1979. No one in club history - not Hal Newhouser, Denny McLain, Mickey Lolich, or Jim Bunning, who tossed the Tigers' last no-hitter - can match his string of five seasons as Detroit's top pitcher.
He tied for the American League lead with 14 victories in 1981, a fact largely overlooked during the strike-shortened season. A year ago he was left off the AL's All-Star roster, yet became a 20-game winner for the first time. Now certainly more people will be familiar with Morris, having seen his masterful effort on NBC's ''Game of the Week'' telecast. Morrow magic
Ken Morrow, the star defenseman on the 1980 US Olympic hockey team, still retains some of that ol' Lake Placid magic. Tuesday night his team, the New York Islanders, needed it to pull out a 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers in a first-round Stanley Cup playoff series. Morrow's contribution came in the form of a series-ending, overtime goal, scored on a 40-foot slapshot. The goal, the third overtime tally of Morrow's career, negated the Rangers' generally superior play and kept the Islanders in the running for a record-tying fifth straight championship. (Montreal reigned over the NHL from 1956 to 1960.)
The upset-minded Rangers, who have now lost to their metro rivals in post-season play the last four years, are coached by Herb Brooks, architect of the '80 US Olympic ''Miracle on Ice.'' Brooks's charges pushed the Islanders to the brink of elimination, only to see them storm back with two ''must'' wins in a best-of-five series that went the distance and then some.
The drama resembled that of a 1982 preliminary series in which the Islanders wriggled away from the Pittsburgh Penguins with another fifth-game, overtime win.
Tonight and Friday night, the Islanders host the Washington Capitals in the first two games of the Patrick Division finals. Olympic Hall of Famers
The second annual elections to the US Olympic Hall of Fame (the subject of a Monitor sports commentary April 6) are complete, and the newly named members, in order of vote totals, are: swimmer John Naber; shotputter Parry O'Brien; swimmer Duke Kahanomoku; marathon runner Frank Shorter; sprinter Frank Wykoff; decathlete Bill Toomey; the 1960 basketball team; and distance runner Billy Mills.
Only gold medal winners are eligible in the balloting by sports writers and sportscasters. No actual hall exists at this point as the concept is still in the formative stages.